Remember God!

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Deuteronomy is a book were Moses called the people of Israel into remembrance – of their history, their laws, and their GOD.

Moses reminds Israel to remember Egypt, their slavery, and their salvation through the Red Sea. He also reminds them to take care for their hearts – lest they grow comfortable in the land of Canaan, forget Who delivered them, and follow idols instead. And lastly, he reminds them to remember their God.

“You shall remember the Lord your God” -Deuteronomy 8:18

You would think that Israel wouldn’t forget any of these things. Besides, who has ever seen a sea break in two? Or water gushing out of a rock? Or bitter water turned sweet because a tree fell in? None of us. Yet, Moses warned the Israelites that if they weren’t careful, they would forget all these things: they would forget God.

Often throughout the book of Deuteronomy, Moses also tells the Israelites to guard against idolatry.  If they remembered one simple thing, they would never have to be afraid of falling into idolatry – remember God.

If you stand amazed at the one, true God and remember His majesty, you won’t be tempted to make an idol in your heart to worship instead. Moses asks the Israelites a rhetorical question –

“For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?” -Deuteronomy 4:7 

Basically, Moses is asking the people – how could you go after another god? One who will never work salvation in your midst or answer when you call upon Him or deliver you from your enemies. Why would you would want an idol, when you could have the True God?

Remember God and desire Him, and you won’t want anything less.

The necessity of praise to God

(To any readers still out there… thank you for reading still! I know I was gone for a long while. Life really picked up the pace the beginning of March and now it seemed to have slowed down a bit. The desire in posting this morning is not that I need to create words to form a post just because I haven’t in a while, but I was moved this morning in my time with God and thought I’d pass on what I learned.)

Psalm 81 is probably one of my top 3 favorite psalms – there is so much packed into the short 16 verses! I have come back to this Psalm so many times in the past several years and have always been humbled by what the Lord teaches me from it. This morning my meditation came from verse 1 –

“Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob!” -Psalm 81:1 

Matthew Henry says the following about this verse and the utmost necessity every believer has to be diligent in their praise of God – “Praising God is not only a good thing, which we do well to do, but it is our indispensable duty, which we are obliged to do; it is at our peril if we neglect it”

As I was thinking about the verse and his comment, I had to ask – why is it our indispensable duty? Why is it a great peril if we neglect to praise God? Here is the conclusion that I came to. If you, readers, have any other thoughts in answer to the question, feel free to comment and share!

A righteous soul who looks to God and sees Him as who He really is–in all His glory & honor & power & faithfulness–will respond in humble worship before Him. They will see their unworthiness, their changing, their failings; and they will see a perfect God – One who never changes, One who never fails in anything.

This conclusion was helpful to me to really consider the state of my soul and find questions to ask myself when it seems that praise isn’t pouring forth from my lips.

-Am I seeking the Lord with my whole heart? (Psalm 119:2)
-Have I been keeping His statutes? (Psalm 119:8)
-Do I delight in His testimonies more than in riches? (Psalm 119:14)
-Have I been meditating on His precepts and fixing my eyes on them? (Psalm 119:15)

I believe that the Lord will bless the soul that is diligent to keep His statutes. And please note, I am not saying that the Christian life is full of lists of rules that we must keep, but the more we become in awe of who God is, the more it will be our hearts’ desire to follow Him.

Praise the Lord for His tender mercies, His daily graces that bear us up, and His never-failing faithfulness!

The Spiritual Perspective

When reading the book of 2 Corinthians, you quickly pick up on the very strong, spiritual perspective that Paul had on life. You also quickly realize that Paul faced many difficult persecutions and trials in his life. Chapters 4, 6, 7 and 12 very clearly portray this idea. The following snippets are several ways that Paul wrote of their trials:

“We are afflicted in every way…perplexed… persecuted… struck down.” -from chapter 4

“We are treated as impostors… as unknown… as dying… as punished… as sorrowful… as poor… as having nothing.” -from chapter 6

“For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn – fighting without and fear within.” – from chapter 7

What afflictions and trials Paul faced! Though, as we consider these words, we realize that this is the way of every Christian. Every follower of Jesus Christ will be persecuted and tried for their faith in Christ. As it says in 2 Timothy 3: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

If you finish the phrases that I share above, you will see that Paul was not in despair through all his hardships. Absolutely not! Through it all, he had a spiritual perspective in his trials:

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” – 2Cor. 4:8-9

“We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” -2 Cor. 6:8-10

” For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” -2 Cor. 7:5-6

Paul could say that even though he was dying, he was really living! Because in Christ we have eternal life (John 17:3). Even though he was poor, he was still making many rich because the Gospel is the true treasure on earth. He had nothing, and in reality he possessed everything – having Christ as his own!

How did Paul have such a good perspective through all his adversities? I believe that the key verse is 2 Corinthians 5:7 –

“…for we walk by faith, not by sight.” Trials, difficulties, and pain will come in the Christian life, yet when we walk by faith we are looking to God, believing that He is working through it all. That is how we can have joy through our trials. That’s why we can praise the Lord even in the midst of immense difficulties. That is how you can say the following with Paul:

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Isaiah 1:18

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Thankfulness doesn’t just happen. Instead, it is something that must be chosen and intentionally proclaimed. In my journey of discovering all the aspects of what true joy looks like, I quickly came to realize that thankfulness is an integral part of the topic. And yet, when long days happen, the food gets burnt in the oven, and everyone seems to be irritated (even myself!), I realize that thankfulness is still just as important as the day before- when the sun was shining, the food was perfect, and everyone was in the best of moods.

So I decided that other day – that long day when sleep still seemed hours away – that if I am going to be thankful constantly and consistently, I must take intentional action and a lot of prayer. I sat down with my Bible that evening and opened to Isaiah. I started reading and every time I came across something that encouraged me – a promise, a characteristic of the Lord, a mercy of God, etc.  I wrote them all down.

And with that, the journey began. Finding many uplifting verses and phrases from the book, I decided that the next time I was downcast, I would intentionally meditate on one of the verses that I had found. The discipline to sit down and do something when the flesh seems opposed, can be hard, and yet how rewarding even a few minutes can be, when soaked in the Word of God!

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” 

~ Isaiah 1:18 ~

I know that’s a very familiar passage, but even a few minutes of meditation should result in praise to the Lord! What a simple statement, and yet how marvelous! For the believer, what rejoicing and humility should ensue.

The phrasing of “white as snow” and “like wool” denotes the idea of pure, washed and clean. We, who were dead in trespasses and sins, are now as white as snow? Yes. It makes no sense apart from Christ, the spotless lamb of God. John rightly testified to this Christ – “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”. This Lamb, the spotless & pure One, makes us pure and spotless before Him by the blood that He shed for us!

Are those sins, so vile and wretched before the eyes of a holy God, now like wool? Yes. Again, it makes no sense apart from Christ. Paul wrote in Galatians 1: “… the Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for our sins…” (Gal. 1:4). This should result in praise and deep-seated humility. There is no reason for boasting in ourselves for this purity since it was all because of Christ that we are now clean.

And time would fail to examine the contents of Hebrews 9 & 10 where Christ is described as the Priest who offered a sacrifice for sins, once for all. The blood of bulls and goats never took away sins, they foreshadowed to One who could do that – Jesus Christ.

What are you thankful for today? 

“I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” -Psalm 69:30

He has dealt bountifully!

“I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

~ Psalm 13:6 ~

Thanksgiving Day is often the time when everyone posts their “thanksgiving lists”, but after reading the above passage and meditating on it, I realized that every day should be a day that we post our thanksgiving lists! While Psalm 13 starts out with despairing words like “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”, it ends with the triumphant words of a man who put his gaze on God who had truly blessed him.

All believers in Christ face hard times, trials, and difficulties, but we are still encouraged to “come into his presence with thanksgiving” (Psalm 95:2a).  As followers of Jesus, we have numerous things to be thankful for, because He has dealt bountifully with us! As I was meditating on this verse this morning, I came up with a list of things that I’m thankful for, and want to share with you all.

  • “But God, being rich in mercy…” -Ephesians 2:4. I, too, was lost and dead in trespasses and sins. I, too, was a child of wrath. I, too, lived in the passions of my flesh. But God, being rich in mercy and love made me alive in Christ. This truth alone thrills my heart to think of this kind of unending mercy and extravagant love!
  • “You were ransomed… with the precious blood of Christ” -1 Peter 1:18-19. I was not ransomed with perishable things, but with the precious blood of Christ, my Savior!
  • I am now a slave of righteousness – Romans 6:20. Before salvation, my whole desire and passion was to please Satan. Enslaved and under his bondage, there was no joy in my heart. The thing Satan called “freedom,” the impulses to do whatever I desired, was actually slavery. And now I am enslaved to Christ- having true freedom by the grace He gives me to obey His Word!
  • God’s ever-hearing ear – Psalm 4:3. What a comfort and delight to the heart to know that all those prayers, tears and silent cries are heard by the Father.
  • The faithfulness of the Lord that endures forever – Psalm 117:2. When believing and relying on the Lord to answer promises and to keep His own, the faithfulness of the Lord is an ever-constant comfort. There will be no promise that God breaks, and there will be no child of His that He will ever lose.
  • Those who keep watch over my soul – Hebrews 13:17. Every Sunday I am reminded of how grateful I am for the leaders/elders that the Lord has placed over me in the Church. They are the ones who spoke to me the word of God (Hebrews 13:7) and keep watch over my soul (Hebrews 13:17).
  • The local Church – Romans 12:4-5. How thankful I am for the body of believers that the Lord has placed in my life! Praise the Lord for a local Church to gather with weekly to encourage us onto God and to worship the Lord with.

Time would fail me to write of all the ways that the Lord has dealt bountifully with me, so here are just a few. How has He dealt bountifully with you?

“Mighty to Save” | Encouragement from Isaiah 63

I am amazed at how such small phrases in Scripture can bring such encouragement to the soul! I was recently reading in Charles Spurgeon’s devotional on the phrase “mighty to save.” In Isaiah 63, the Lord describes Himself this – Mighty to Save. Let me share an excerpt, which I thought was humbling, encouraging and motivating.

“Christ is not only “mighty to save” those who repent, but he is able to make men repent. He will carry those to heaven who believe; but he is, moreover, mighty to give men new hearts and to work faith in them. He is mighty to make the man who hates holiness love it, and to constrain the despiser of his name to bend the knee before him. Nay, this is not all the meaning, for the divine power is equally seen in the after-work. The life of a believer is a series of miracles wrought by ‘the Mighty God.’ Believer, here is encouragement. Art thou praying for some beloved one? Oh, give not up thy prayers, for Christ is “mighty to save.”  You are powerless to reclaim the rebel, but your Lord is Almighty. Lay hold on that mighty arm, and rouse it to put forth its strength. Does your own case trouble you? Fear not, for his strength is sufficient for you. Whether to begin with others, or to carry on the work in you, Jesus is “mighty to save;” the best proof of which lies in the fact that he has saved you. What a thousand mercies that you have not found him mighty to destroy!” -Spurgeon, January 14th

I was humbled reading this because I can look back at my own life- a life caught up in hypocrisy trying to look good outwardly to others while inwardly I knew I was full of selfishness, unkindness, hatred to God and  His Word and full of dead works. I know I was that hardened sinner that wanted nothing to do with God’s Word or His Church. I know that I was that sinner that longed for my own glory rather than God. I longed for nothing more than to look good to others. And yet, through all the pride and filth, the Lord was mighty to save even me! Praise God for His marvelous work and power to bring me low!

I was encouraged with this section of Spurgeon’s writing, because it reminds me again (and let me never lay this truth aside as insignificant!) that “nothing is too hard for God” (Jeremiah 32:17). There is no one too hard for God to save. There is no one too far gone for Him to call to Himself. There is no one too dead for Him to bring to life. I recently witnessed the life of someone radically changed by the power of the Gospel – someone who would have even recently said that they would have nothing to do with God. When I hear their story, it encourages me that I serve a God Who is mighty to save!

And lastly, I was motivated, because I want to see more of God’s mighty power in the transformation of lives! Spurgeon says it well: “You are powerless to reclaim the rebel, but your Lord is Almighty. Lay hold on that mighty arm, and rouse it to put forth its strength.” I can’t change a life, but I can pray for God to change a life. I can’t convict someone of sin, but I can pray that God’s Spirit would come into their life to convict them with Truth. What a joy to see hardened sinners come to know the Lord! What a delight to call that God- a God “mighty to save”- as my own God! May we all be found faithful in fervently praying for sinners that desperately need Christ.

God, mighty to save – let that truth bring you joy and delight today!

My Theme Verse | Part 2, 2017

In my last post I shared about the tradition that I started to pick a passage each year to really meditate on and pray over. It has encouraged me each year to have something specific to be seeking the Lord about. And now I’m here to share my passage for 2017!

I’ve recently been memorizing in the book of Hebrews and have come across so many excellent truths inside! How can you not sit in wonder at Hebrews 1? God has spoken to us through His Son – Jesus Christ! – while the men of old only had the prophets to hear God’s Word. Or, what about Hebrews 3? Jesus is called the apostle and high priest of our confession and has far more glory and honor than Moses ever had! In Hebrews 9, we are told that Jesus shed His own blood to purify our conscience from dead works! Praise the Lord for these truth-packed chapters!

In light of all of that, I knew that my theme verse for this year had to come from Hebrews. In the past year, the Lord has started to teach me a lot more about faith, promises, waiting on Him, and diligence in my Christian walk. What better passage to sum all those ideas up than Hebrews 6:11-12?!

“…And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

After these verses, the chapter continues with the miraculous story of Abraham. The man who waited 25 years to see God’s promise fulfilled to him. He had to wait. He had to have faith in God’s character and word. He had to believe. And because of all that, this verse was written of him:

“And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.”

Abraham was not passive in his belief toward God. He even had to go to God and tell Him of his unbelief (Genesis 15), and asked that Ishmael would live before the Lord. Believing the promise might have not been easy, but oh, what a glorious thing when all was fulfilled! And what a glorious, though maybe hard, journey to rely on the Lord for a specific promise!

With a new year ahead of us, I pray that the Lord would use this passage in my life dramatically. I want to have earnestness in my walk with God. Jesus called us to come, die, and carry a cross, not to come and live our lives with comfort and ease. I want to have “full assurance of hope until the end”. I don’t want to fall into sluggishness. I want to imitate those men and women of the faith who came before me.

And yet, I recognize at the root of it all – God must be the one who works. I can’t form these things in myself. I can’t just change myself overnight. God must do it. And what a blessed thing because God knows what is best. He knows exactly what joys and trials I must encounter to teach me these things. And through it all, He will give me the strength and endurance I need to face all that He brings along. And through it all, I realize that it all ties back into my last post of trusting in the Lord! Relying on Him, that He, in His sovereignty, knows what is best for me as I learn these lessons.

“…whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”